Friday, August 29, 2008

iWitness: Pier 16

08/19/2008 | 12:06 AM




They move from one place to another, rain or shine, they bring along their families cramped in a trailer van. This August, Kara David bears witness to the life of trailer van assistants.

Assistants to trailer van drivers or pahinantes usually travel from city to province taking with them family members. They reside in a trailer van with address at Pier 16! Just like a typical house, the trailer has facilities too. The van's chassis becomes their basement, the road serves as their kitchen, and nearby drainage functions as their toilet.

Pahinantes are modern-day Filipino nomads that reflect the country's poverty. Evelyn brings her child every week to the hospital due to persistent coughs and colds while Leonard studies under the pier's lamp post. Everyday, they scramble up the pier's fence to avoid getting caught by guards.

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Palipat-lipat ng lugar, karay-karay ang buong pamilya, umulan man o umaraw, nagsisiksikan sa iisang trailer van. Ngayong Agosto, ang buhay ng mga pahinante ang susundan ni Kara David.

Bumabiyahe ang mga pahinante mula lungsod hanggang lalawigan angkas ang buong mag-anak. Sa trailer van na sila nakatira, at ang kanilang address -- Pier 16! Itinuturing na nila ang sasakyan na kanilang mansyon kung saan dito na sila namumuhay. Ang chassis ng van ang siya nilang silong, ang kalsada ang kusina, at ang kalapit na estero sa pier ang palikuran.

Sila ang makabagong "nomadic" na Pinoy, ang salamin ng kahirapan sa Pilipinas. Si Leonard, pilit na nag-aaral sa ilaw ng poste ng pier. Si Evelyn naman, linggo-linggong dinadala ang anak sa ospital dahil sa pasakit na ubo at sipon. At araw-araw, sumasampa sila sa bakod ng pier makaiwas lang sa mga mata ng tagapagbabantay sa compound.

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